An experimental comparison between several active composite actuators for power generation

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The use of piezoelectric materials for power harvesting has attracted significant interest over the past few years. The majority of research on this subject has sought to quantify the amount of energy generated in power harvesting applications, or to develop methods of improving the amount of energy generated. Usually, a monolithic piezoelectric material with a traditional electrode pattern and poled through its thickness is used for power harvesting. However, in recent years several companies and research institutions have begun to develop and market a broad range of piezoelectric composite sensor/actuator packages, each conceived for specific operational advantages and characteristics. Commonly, these devices are employed in control and vibration suppression applications, and their potential for use in power-harvesting systems remains largely unknown. Two frequently implemented design techniques for improving the performance of such actuators are the use of interdigitated electrodes and piezofibers. This paper seeks to experimentally quantify the differences in performance in power-harvesting applications between several of these new actuators and to identify the reasons for their relative performance characteristics. A special focus on the structural and compositional differences between each actuator is incorporated in the discussion of the effectiveness of each actuator as a power-harvesting device. © 2006 IOP Publishing Ltd.

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Smart Materials and Structures